Bowstring Lake, Minnesota, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Bowstring Lake.

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Bowstring Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Northeast -

Be it fishing, wakeboarding, canoeing or just simply wildlife watching, Bowstring Lake fulfills its visitors every vacation need. Set in Itasca County and Minnesota’s northeast tourism region, this 9,500-acre body of water fits perfectly for family gatherings or for solitary weekend aways. Located roughly 18 miles north from the city of Deer River, Bowstring Lake is settled completely within the Chippewa National Forest. Its 30 miles of shoreline curve around dense thickets of trees with occasional views of cabins peeking out through the woods.

Bowstring Lake, which has a maximum depth of 32 feet and an average depth of 15 feet, is connected to a series of lakes known as the Bowstring Chain of Lakes. Starting with Little Bowstring Lake to the southwest, the Bowstring River flows northwest into Muskrat and Grouse Bay, which are connected to Bowstring Lake. The river flows outward to the northwest, into Sand Lake, Little Sand Lake and Rice Lake, eventually joining the Popple River at Dora Lake and forming the Bigfork River.

The area is known for its fishing success, as Bowstring Lake is listed as one of Minnesota’s top lakes for fishing walleye and northern pike. This makes it an extremely popular lake for anglers, who can access the lakes through multiple public boating ramps. On any given day, anglers can be seen in the morning mist, the afternoon sun or silhouetted in a brilliant sunset. Other fish species swimming beneath the lake’s depths include jumbo perch, black crappie, largemouth bass, shorthead redhorse, and yellow bullhead.

Due to Bowstring Lake’s location within the Chippewa National Forests, visitors have an unlimited number of outdoor activities to take part in, through any of the seasons. Trees change into brilliant shades of red and yellow during the fall as hunters pack into the area for the chance at a prize black bear, white-tailed deer or waterfowl. When winter arrives, locals and newcomers celebrate the new season by ice fishing, snowshoeing, or exploring new trails while cross country skiing. Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails wind themselves around the area, making it simple to scout the area during the spring and summer.

Lakeside vacation rentals are available within a number of resorts that speckle the shoreline at Bowstring Lake. Others who wish to relocate to the area may pick out a piece of lakeside property, or find real estate opportunities around the outdoorsy area. And if you’re looking to sit among the stars for an evening or two, campsites are scattered across the national forest. Chippewa National Forest encompasses over 650,000 acres of towering red oaks, white pine and slender aspen trees. Bald eagles scour the sky while wolves and the Canada lynx lurk quietly below. Because the area is rich in lakes and wetland habitat, there are plenty of unique wildlife and plant species to be found.

While Bowstring Lake is mostly visited by vacationers coming for a long weekend or a brief respite from the everyday humdrum of life, those who are looking to stay in the long term won’t be bored by the area’s offerings. Fall deep into the past by visiting a few local mines, pluck plump berries at nearby farms, or check into one of the nearby casinos for local color and great food. Either way you choose, Bowstring Lake meets the needs of many.

Custom Bowstring Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Bowstring Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Bowstring Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Redhorse
  • Sucker
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Bullhead

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Bowstring Lake

The Bowstring Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Bowstring Lake photo gallery

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Bowstring Lake statistics & helpful links


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